49ers: San Francisco’s highest paid players in 2018

After making splashes in free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft, we break down the San Francisco 49ers’ most expensive players, and where the Niners stand compared to the 2018 NFL salary cap.


San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan made a number of significant transactions and changes to the roster in the four months since we last took a look at the team’s cap space and highest-paid players.

The 49ers no longer lead the NFL in available money to spend — they now rank third with $45 million in cap space for 2018.

While the 49ers spent more in 2017 free agency than all but one other team, in 2018, Lynch’s focus has been extending the contracts of players already on the roster — notably quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who briefly became the NFL’s highest-paid player.

However, the 49ers did add some key pieces in free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft — and they released two players from our last list, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil and offensive lineman Zane Beadles.

Here are the San Francisco 49ers’ highest paid players for the upcoming 2018 season:

1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo – $37.0 million

Garoppolo counts $37 million against the 49ers’ cap in 2018, mostly thanks to a $28.8 million roster bonus the team used to push his cap number higher in 2018, and lower for the remainder of his five-year contract. Garoppolo is scheduled to make between $20 million and $27 million over the following four years, which will likely equate to a mid-range quarterback salary by the end of his contract.

2. T Joe Staley – $10.9 million

Even though Joe Staley had two years left on his six-year contract with the 49ers, Lynch decided to give the top left tackle a raise totaling $6.5 million over the next two seasons. If Staley continues to play at his 2017 level, he could still be a value, even at his new inflated contract number.

3. C Weston Richburg – $9.3 million

The 49ers made waves early in free agency with the signing of Weston Richburg, inking the former New York Giants center to a five-year contract worth up to $47.5 million. Coming off his rookie deal and a shortened 2017 season, Richburg — who excels as a pass-blocker —  will be expected to protect the 49ers’ investment in Garoppolo for the forseeable future.

4. WR Pierre Garçon – $9.3 million

Pierre Garçon signed a 5-year, $47 million contract last offseason, and was the team’s top receiver until a mid-season injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. If second-round pick Dante Pettis progresses as Lynch and Shanahan hope, Garçon could be a cut candidate after 2019, when the receiver’s salary is scheduled to increase significantly.

5. DB Jimmie Ward – $8.5 million

Jimmie Ward‘s “fifth-year option” season will net him more than he made in his previous four seasons combined. Thanks to the 49ers’ plethora of safeties, Ward will compete at both free safety and cornerback this offseason, and could end up starting at free safety, outside cornerback or slot corner — or he could perhaps be the team’s first defensive back off the bench.

6. DE Solomon Thomas – $6.4 million

Solomon Thomas — Lynch’s first draft pick as general manager — carries a hefty price tag for a player who struggled during his rookie season. The 49ers expect improvement from Thomas, who signed a guaranteed contract worth over $28 million which tops out near $9 million in 2020.

7. WR Marquise Goodwin – $6.3 million

After Marquise Goodwin exceeded the expectations associated with his initial two-year contract with the team, the 49ers compensated him, while locking the receiver into an extension through 2021. If Goodwin takes a step forward in 2018 after his breakout season last year, his $4.1 million cap hit in 2019 would be a bargain for the team.

8. Richard Sherman – $6.2 million

With the 49ers’ first — and most shocking — free-agent signing of 2018, Lynch added a former enemy who played a position-of-need in former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. Since his signing, Sherman has said and done all the right things, and is on track to win over the Niners’ fan base, provided he returns fully from his 2017 Achilles injury.

9. Jerick McKinnon – $6.0 million

The 49ers made former Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon into a feature back, and they’re paying him accordingly. While his deal is more team friendly than initially reported, McKinnon will still have to prove his worth as a three-down back if he expects to collect on all $30 million of his contract.

10. DeForest Buckner – $5.0 million

DeForest Buckner — one of the NFL’s top defensive tackles — drops five spots on the list, barely beating out Jonathan Cooper, a guard who was signed to compete for a spot on the offensive line. While Buckner’s rookie deal keeps looking better, the 49ers better prepare to pay top dollar once his contract expires in 2021.


The San Francisco 49ers’ list of highest paid players is mostly set for 2018, but still has the opportunity to change prior to the beginning of the NFL season.

About the Author: Chris Wilson

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